Adding Spice to Store Appeals

September 29, 2010

The early customer traction of specialty spice shops cropping up in high-end malls

The early customer traction of specialty spice shops cropping up in high-end malls in Florida, and planned for Georgetown in the nation’s capitol, suggests that spice boutiques in supermarkets could appeal similarly and deliver better value.

Such spice centers might lack the cachet of the Spice & Tea Exchange stores, which grind in front of customers and offer custom blends at $4.89 per ounce. According to the St. Petersburg Times, a main display wall displays “28 salts, 150 meat and fish rubs, 13 flavored sugars and 22 green or black teas.”

Yet supermarkets could leverage such a center to help millions of home cookers relieve tedium and build new excitement around the family dinner table. People are still eating out less than before the recession, and if spice buying could be simplified, The Lempert Report believes shoppers would experiment more with new tastes. If they like them, the ready availability of multiple spices could make compliments at home a repeatable experience.

Supermarkets already devote eight feet or more to spices and post secondary displays by meat, seafood and other center-plate items. By romancing the category further, however – even allowing people to sniff selected spices, and educating about their most effective uses – stores could encourage the wider use of a broader variety of spices with many more foods.

We know that operators including Walmart have taken a strong private label stance in the spice category. While that may bring higher percentage margins, this is one area where we believe innovation could bring retailers a disproportionate competitive advantage.